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Consider the Alternatives – 4 Teeth-Straightening Options for Your Teen Besides Braces

Many would like to avoid the appearance and discomfort of metal braces, especially when it comes to teenage patients. Younger patients want the appearance of straighter teeth, but they don’t want to go through the pain and appearance of braces for two years to get there. If your teen is protesting traditional braces, know that there are other options. For parents that are on the search for alternatives, here is a look at four of the most common options and how they stack up against traditional braces.

Consider the Alternatives - 4 Teeth-Straightening Options for Your Teen Besides BracesRetainers

The modern form of retainers have been around for nearly as long as metal braces and is one of the most common alternatives for those that have only minor “malocclusion” or misalignment of teeth. Retainers will either need to be worn while sleeping or throughout the day depending on the severity of the malocclusion. In some cases, patients can wear braces for a period of time and then use retainers to finish the teeth-straightening process. While effective, retainers are not an option for those with teeth that are very misaligned.

Invisible Aligners

Invisible aligners are the newest breakthrough when it comes to straightening teeth and are the perfect option for teens that want a straighter smile but would like to avoid the appearance of metal braces. Invisible aligners are a series of clear plastic trays that are created custom for every single patient. These trays are worn 20 to 22 hours a day and only removed to eat or brush one’s teeth. One of the biggest differences when it comes to invisalign vs traditional braces is that your invisalign trays will be switched out every few weeks to adjust to your teeth and keep the trays clean. For those who want a less noticeable method for getting straight teeth, invisalign is the way to go.

Serial Extraction

Malocclusion is often seen in the teenage years due to issues with the baby teeth and adult teeth interacting with one another. Often, multiple teeth erupt when there is not enough space to do so, and serial extraction is an affordable and effective option for these situations. The dentist will carefully track the progress of the teeth as the child grows and when the adult teeth are nearing baby teeth the smaller teeth are painlessly removed to make space.


It was not many years ago that patients would cringe at hearing veneers as an option, but these small medical devices have improved dramatically in recent years. Veneers are extremely thin strips of porcelain or a similar material that are stained to perfectly match the natural teeth around them. It takes two to three trips to the dentist for a fitting and installation at which point the teen will need to care for them just as they would their natural teeth. The leading downside is the need to replace them every few years and the possibility for them to crack while chewing on hard objects such as ice.

By catching and treating oral health issues at an earlier age, teenagers are going to have the best chance at preserving their adult teeth and maintaining a straight and beautiful smile for years on end. For those teens who want less painful or more discreet ways to straighten their teeth, there are options. As technology advances, orthodontists are able to offer patients more advanced and less inconvenient ways to straighten their teeth. Do some research about the options available for your teen and get them on the path to a straighter smile right away.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has done extensive research on the long-term effects of childhood hunger. Children are our main demographic of clients, so we work tirelessly to get their families the resources that they need to lead healthy and productive lives for generations to come. When you assist IFCS' mission to alleviate hunger, your support has a ripple effect that affects the future of our community. Take a moment to make an impact - #onecanfeed
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We truly appreciate your support! Through the kindness of the community and generous donations to the Ready Set School! program, IFCS was able to assist 552 students with school supplies, clothing, and backpacks as well as supplies for 300+ students.
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We appreciate the Back-to-School partnership with @DollarTree and Operation Homefront. Through their support, we were able to collect over 1,000 items to go into school supply backpacks. Thank you for the support of our veterans and their families!

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